I loved the unique world, loveable characters, unusual plot, and sumptuous prose I discovered in Jacqueline Carey’s KUSHIEL books. Most of these elements are also present in her THE SUNDERING duology but, as I mentioned in my review of the first installment, Banewreaker, I found the book easy to admire and hard to love. With its formal style and remote, larger-than-life characters, it reads more like a myth than a story. If you’re in the mood for that type of tale, I’d recommend this duology.
Godslayer is the end of the story started in Banewreaker. (So you‘ve got to read Banewreaker first.) As prophesied, humans and their allies are rising against Sartoris and his once-human generals who’ve betrayed their race and served the evil god for a thousand years in exchange for immortality. THE SUNDERING is reminiscent of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (and perhaps written in response to it) with a few sets of characters / armies independently converging on Darkhaven, the scene of a final epic “battle between good and evil.” There are several characters and events that have recognizable parallels in LOTR.
The uniqueness here is that Carey is giving us the viewpoints of both sides, good and evil. She’s successful with this conceit, requiring me to occasionally remind myself whose side I was supposed to be on and reminding me that those we consider wrong or maybe even “evil” can still be honorable and may have understandable reasons for their beliefs and behaviors.
If you were enjoying the story in Banewreaker, then you’re sure to love Godslayer. The writing is smoother, the plot is more exciting (at least toward the end), and the characters, especially the human ones such as Danny and his uncle, inspire more empathy than they did in the first book. If you thought (like I did) that Banewreaker was slow and aloof, but you want to find out how it ends, I think you will (like I did) appreciate Godslayer more, at least during the last third or so of the book. The final scenes were wonderful.
I listened to the audio version recently produced by Tantor Audio and beautifully read by Antony Ferguson. Godslayer is 15 hours long. If you decide to read THE SUNDERING, I recommend this edition.